You have a right to think whatever you like about anything.
You have a right to stand on public property in the middle of town and share your beliefs.
You have a right to vote for people who agree with your beliefs. Heck, you can even vote for someone who doesn’t agree with you, if that’s the way you want to cast your vote.
As we celebrate our independence, it’s important to remember this is a country that continues to thrive.
You’re hearing a lot these days about how fractured the United States of America is right now. There are protests and riots. It’s considered news when differing factions work together for a greater good. There are people questioning whether we truly are the free nation we claim to be.
My 13-year-old daughter recently asked me if I thought America was on its way up or on its way down. She obviously has a lot of skin in that game, since, God willing, she has another 70 or 80 years left in this country.
I told her the fact we can still disagree peacefully proves the grand American experiment is still rolling along just fine.
Sure, we have some embarrassing black eyes in our past. I’m not sure why we’re so surprised as a culture to learn something fundamental to life: No one’s perfect. Sometimes people who do good things end up being creeps and cowards in other moments of their lives. That’s just as true for founding fathers as it is for your neighbors.
It’s just as true for me. I try to be a decent guy, but I fail on that at times on a daily basis. I hope I fail less frequently in my later years than I did in my earlier years, as I’m more aware of what I do and say that might be objectionable.
I said some dumb things as a child that, within the culture of that place and at that time, seemed OK. In those days, we all used to love to tell Polish jokes, blonde jokes and yo mama jokes. Now that I know more about the world, I realize Poland isn’t that much farther from modern-day Austria, where my family’s roots are, than we are to Chicago, where my family’s American roots are. I married a blonde woman who defies those stereotypes. Once you’ve heard the mother of your children called “mama” by a tot, you’ll never insult that group of people again.
We’re all just sinners in recovery. We take a couple steps forward and fall back sometimes.
As we celebrate our nation’s independence, it’s easy to focus on the misdeeds of some of these historic figures and let that discredit them. Yet I wouldn’t for a second discredit the heroes of the Bible. Paul persecuted and killed the Christians before realizing his mistake. Peter literally said he didn’t know Jesus three times leading up to the crucifixion and still became the first leader of God’s church on earth.
To only think about the worst thing someone’s ever done and forget about the good they’d done is as un-American as I can imagine. We’re a nation of people who stand up at the right time and do the right thing. We’re not born as heroes, but we become heroes when our nation needs us.
That’s why I’m proud of America. She may be battered and bruised, but she’s always been that way. We were never promised perfection, just a more perfect union. We were never promised life, liberty and happiness, only the pursuit of the three of them.
I’ll proudly continue that pursuit under the colors of the red, white and blue. God bless America.
David Trinko is managing editor of The Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.